Strike action will continue to hit public services in West Devon in the coming weeks as workers campaign to protect their income levels.In a series of unprecedented mass pay disputes, ambulance workers, teachers, nurses, university lecturers, train and bus drivers and civil servants have hit services locally. Fire service staff have also voted to strike, but have yet to fix any days of action.
In the latest strikes today, teachers, civil servants and train and bus drivers all walked out - thought to be the biggest combined action for years.
Teachers plan further days of action later this month elsewhere in the UK and are due to walk out again in West Devon on Thursday March 2, and Wednesday/Thursday March 15/16.NHS workers from ambulance trust and nurses from the region have already taken action over pay and NHS funding and are planning more walk-outs.
Health service unions involved are Unison, Unite, RCN and the GMB. The biggest health service day of action is due to be on Monday (February 6) when ambulance workers and nurses plan to strike in West Devon and nationwide.
Nurses are also walking out on Tuesday (February 7), while ambulance staff from Unison are striking on Friday February 10 in the region.
All striking workers are concerned their standard of living is falling due to the cost of living crisis and service standards are falling due to inadequate investment in schools and NHS care.
Headteachers and NHS managers fear recruitment and retention difficulties due to pay levels, are also affecting standards.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) which held the ballot last week supporting strike action in principle, is hoping to avoid a strike and has given the government and local employers until Thursday, February 9, to come forward with an improved pay offer which might be put to a vote of members.
The last nationwide FBU strike was in 2003 over pay. The latest pay offer, below 5% inflation, was rejected by the union last November. The FBU says the offer would mean further significant cuts to real terms wages for firefighters and control room staff. It claims a 12% cut in the value of their pay since 2010.
Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary, said any action would be a last resort for his members and blamed any disruption on fire service employers and the government.
The government says the strikes are 'disappointing' and it cannot afford above inflation pay rises